In Chinese medicine, blood means nourishment. It is responsible for keeping our muscles, organs, eyes, hair and skin healthy, and providing a physical home for our minds.
If your blood becomes deficient, it can cause a number of physical and emotional symptoms, including:
- Dull, pale skin
- Pale lips and tongue
- Dry skin, hair and nails
- Numbness or tingling
- Poor memory
Blood deficiency can happen for a number of reasons including extreme blood loss and long-term emotional stress. However, by far the most common cause of blood deficiency is a diet lacking in the right nutrition.
Luckily, it is relatively easy to reverse the symptoms of blood deficiency. Getting a good balance between exercise and rest and managing your stress levels are both beneficial. However, by far the most important thing you can do is change your eating habits and include more blood nourishing foods in your diet.
The Best Foods for Blood Deficiency
It is important to eat plenty of dark green, leafy vegetables which are rich in chlorophyll. This is the pigment that gives plants their green color, and helps them to make energy from the sun. It also has a number of benefits for the human body including improving skin health, aiding wound healing and removing bad breath and body odor. In Chinese medicine, green foods are thought to particularly benefit the Liver which plays a key role in keeping the blood healthy.
Other foods which are especially good for the blood include red meat and liver. These foods are rich in nutrients such as iron, and high in protein too. It is vital to get enough protein in order to have healthy blood, and vegetarians and vegans may have to take extra care. There are plenty of good plant sources of protein including beans and lentils, soy products, nuts and certain grains. The most important thing to remember is to eat a wide variety of these foods each day to ensure that you are getting all the nutrition you need.
Some of the best foods for nourishing the blood are listed below:
- Leafy greens
- Goji berries
Beans and Pulses
- Adzuki beans
- Black soy beans
- Kidney beans
- Bone broth
- Bone marrow
- Hen’s eggs
Herbs and Spices
- Microalgae (chlorella, spirulina etc.)
Making Every Mouthful Count
As well as choosing the right foods, it is also important to practice good eating habits. One of these which is often forgotten about in our hectic daily lives is sitting down to enjoy meals. It may seem like an overly simple thing to do, but smelling and tasting your food properly is an important part of the digestive process. Eat in a comfortable place, away from distractions and really pay attention to each mouthful. Take the time to chew properly, and sit for a few minutes once you finish your meal to allow it to settle.
Cooking methods are also important. It is best to cook vegetables quickly and lightly to retain more of their vitamins. Stir-frying and steaming are ideal. Meat is best cooked slowly, making it softer and easier to digest. Soups and stews are a great choice for both meat and vegetables as they make it much easier for your body to extract their nutrients.
By paying a little more attention to what you eat and how, you can help your body to build plentiful and healthy blood, and avoid the symptoms of deficiency. Ask your acupuncturist for more advice on which foods you should be eating for your body type.